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To be a nurse or not to be a nurse?

Recently, my life has taken a turn in a very different direction. Im now left trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I am considering nursing school. Ive always been interested in the human body/anatomy but I've never really had the burning passion to be a nurse. I haven't known all my life that a nurse is what I want to be. At this point in my life, I have decided on it because it is something that I have somewhat of an interest in and basically I am doing it out of necessity. I need a job that will pay my bills so I wont have to rely on family to help me forever.

So, I guess my question is, do you think its possible to survive nursing school if its not something that you have that insane passion for? Im basically doing it because its a job, and I dont have many other options.

Thanks for the help and opinions.

iPink specializes in Critical Care, Postpartum.

That question can only be answered by you.

I will give you this much. I have a cousin who became a CRNA. She's been a CRNA for several years now. Why did she decide to take that path? Well, she grew up poor and researched that CRNAs make a 6-figure salary. Money was her passion. It was her current situation at that time (which was sleeping on the floor with hardly any food in the fridge) that drove her into the nursing profession. In her mind, it was money first, then learn to love the job later. Currently, she's smiling all the way to the bank.

Hope that helps a bit on YOU deciding.

I think it depends on what motivates you. Do you think you'd enjoy nursing? Even if it's not your calling, I think it's important to enjoy what you do.

How much do you know about nursing? Have you heard about how difficult it is in many areas to get a job as a new graduate?

OB-nurse2013 specializes in Labor and Delivery.

Well I have been struggling to complete school for about 5 or 6 years. I took time off to get married and had two lil ones. I know all schools are very different but many have similar pre-req's:a and p, chemistry, micro, pathophysiology, and many other difficult courses. The competitiveness of getting admitted to nursing school and the many hoops that must be jumped is really insane. I just got accepted to nursing school and start next semester so I cannot speak on that part, but to just get where I am now has been a ton of work. My point is, no I don't think it's a good idea.. The job market is just as good in many otehr areas that you may enjoy much more. Although I think it is realistic to take salary into consideration i don't think its smart to go into a field like nursing if your heart isn't in it 100%. :redpinkhe

Nursing is (to me) one of the most rewarding jobs there is. With a nursing degree there are so many different things you can do. With that being said, nursing school is A LOT of hard work and cost a lot of money. Before you decide to invest a lot of time and money, check at your local hospital and see if they have a mentor or shadowing program. Some hospitals will allow you to follow a nurse for a day or few hours. As a nurse you work a lot of long hours, do things you would never normally think of doing (putting a foley catheter in a male or female patient for example) have people yell at you, get mad at you for not being fast enough, caring enough or just whatever they happen to be mad about that day-you take it all. It sometimes can be a very thankless job. HOWEVER, I LOVE being a NURSE and could not image doing anything else. The bad days usually out weigh the good days, BUT the good days are what makes it all worth doing.

Bottom line, be sure it's something you can/want to do first-only you can answer. :):nurse:


Insane passion for nursing is not a requirement for passing nursing school, neither is having always wanted to be a nurse. Neither are required for nursing to be a good career either, in most definitions of "a good career".

There are few people who love everything about their career... so, find out as much as you can about nursing and about your other career options and decide which is the best match for you.

About the negatives, are there ways around them? good ways around or only enough to get by? I looked at sonography, but working in the dark would be a problem. Light therapy would help but not as much as working in more light.

Are the workarounds realistic or outside chance? A fellow student switched from physical therapy when she realized her workaround of working with children as a way around her tiny size was not realist - few children need pt and many people want to work with children.

at what cost? Is an aching back just a matter of buying really good shoes and support hose and being good to go or will that back severly limit job options?

The more passion one has, the more one is willing to work around the negatives or put up with them. A strong work ethic will do that too. Either way, it can result in a successful career. I've noticed I'm more likely to enjoy working in areas I am interested in but not passionate about, I'm more likely to keep a good perspective and not tie myself up in knots about it.

I could not relate more to your dilemma! I am 25yo with an almost 3 year old... after a failed relationship, find myself living at home with my family. As each day goes by, I find myself becoming more and more anxious to get somewhere in my life. I spend hours on the computer researching careers and salaries vs. the time and cost of schooling. I find that nursing seems to have the most versitility, advancement options, and "bang for your buck" factor. I have a friend who is an LPN working for a agency making over 60k, with less then a year of schooling and a few years OTJ. I realize this may be a 'results not typical' case, but for me it is truly inspiring. As a previous poster stated, at this point I have a passion for financial stability, more then for nursing itself. However, I have always been quite interested in certain aspects of the job.. I feel the one thing holding me back is the possibility that I will not be able to overcome certain "yuck" factors.. But, on the other hand I have been trying to prep myself for this potential 'leap' by reminding myself that everything that happens to these pts could very well happen to me! It really kind of does change the outlook...

I realize I am rambling.. However I wanted to offer a little support and tell you that I am in the same position. Although I am starting CC this week for the first time ever.. and working towards my pre-reqs for the RN program. I am doing the more 'general' classes that I need to do first, that way if something else comes along that does spark my interest, it wont be too much of a set back to have to start from scratch.. Maybe this is something you could do as well? Get your feet wet, so to speak? Either way BEST of luck to you in making a decision.

lifelearningrn specializes in School Nursing.

Honestly, I don't think you need to have grown up with a burning desire to be a nurse to become a nurse. I really don't think there is anything wrong with looking for a career that can be stable and pay the bills. YES, there are problems right now with new grads finding jobs. But that is the same for ALL new graduates in just about every field. Eventually, the jobs will come back. Nursing will never become obsolete. People have all kinds of reasons for choosing their career path.. there is nothing wrong with your reasons for choosing this one.

I would not chose a career I am not passionate about, just me though :)

Not the same but similiar. I received my teacher certification many years ago; I never really wanted to be a teacher but it paid the bills. Twenty five years later I retired; I receive a retirement check monthly...not much but it pays my rent, health insurance and a few other expenses. I'm working as a C.NA and subsitute teaching to have a bit extra in my pocket. I'm taking pre req's for Nursing School now. Teaching was never a passion but it has allowed me the opportunity to live and pay bills. Look at your needs; our passions don't always pay the rent.

I don't mean to sound negative just realistic. Times are tough these days.

lifelearningrn specializes in School Nursing.

Not the same but similiar. I received my teacher certification many years ago; I never really wanted to be a teacher but it paid the bills. Twenty five years later I retired; I receive a retirement check monthly...not much but it pays my rent, health insurance and a few other expenses. I'm working as a C.NA and subsitute teaching to have a bit extra in my pocket. I'm taking pre req's for Nursing School now. Teaching was never a passion but it has allowed me the opportunity to live and pay bills. Look at your needs; our passions don't always pay the rent.

I don't mean to sound negative just realistic. Times are tough these days.

I think you're dead on. Perhaps it is a generational thing, or a socioeconomic thing, but doing what you're 'passionate' isn't an option for a great number of people. I don't think my dad was ever passionate about working in the chemical plants most of his adult life. Or coal miners, or McDonald's clerks. People have to do what they have to do to make a living. If you're passionate about it, that's a huge BONUS. Most people, unfortunately, do the things they're passionate about as hobbies, if they can afford it. (I don't know any artists or musicians that make a living strictly on their passion)

HAHA. Very true! You gotta do what you gotta do to survive. I was seriously considering physical therapy and it is definitely my passion, but the amount of debt is somewhat scaring me. My mother teaches at a community college which would allow me free tuition, and the college offers an excellent nursing program. Even though I love pt, being able to graduate college with a decent job and no debt is definitely a big reason why nursing has now become my passion. Haha. It is always commendable to be practical.

I am passionate about having a "good career". To me that is something that doesn't make me miserable, that is somewhat challenging, that does good for others or the world at large, and yes! that will help my family and myself to have a better financial life. I'm applying to the nursing program for next fall. If it turns out that I find I am passionate about nursing, then what a wonderful surprise (and bonus) that would be. I am passionate about literature and writing, but also about paying my bills. I am confident that you don't have to be "passionate about nursing" to be a great compassionate, patient advocating, nurse. That is what I hope to be.

If your just doing it to pay your bills please dont become a nurse no offense. A nurse who doesnt like her job is everyone nightmare. your patient and your co-workers.you dont have to have a burning passion like its your dream come true but yes you should have the strong desire to help people. thats strong desire to help people will come in handy when you have to clean someones catheter and clean them cause they went to the br all over themself. or if someones so sick they accidently vomit on you. so ya you do need a desire to take care of people, a strong one. nursing is not meant to be about the paycheck

And that strong desire will come in handy when you have to spend tons of time studying. nursing school is pretty much your life. there are no off days. its a way of life

You don't have to be "passionate about nursing" to have a strong work ethic, good charachter, and compassion. I have a "strong desire" not only to be a nurse but to be a great nurse however that doesn't mean the same thing as being passionate about nursing. I'm not doing it only for a paycheck, but pay is one factor otherwise I wouldn't be a nurse I'd be a volunteer. As a mother I have found that I am capable of dealing with and cleaning up all kinds of human waste. Nursing is a career that I think will be a good fit for my goals, values, and personality. I'm aware of what is involved in both nursing and nursing school as I have several close friends who are RNs. Nursing isn't my dream, it's my goal.

Look at your needs; our passions don't always pay the rent.

I don't mean to sound negative just realistic. Times are tough these days.

Good advice. I wasted probably 100K + on my "passion" to earn a master's degree in my field and then teach in it. NOT. Bad economy and 300-500 applicants for every 1 position, usually that goes to the person with the most inside connections (seen it over and over again where I went to grad school). Yes, they interview lots, but they pick who they like/know, fit obscure "needs" and it's not about choosing the applicant that is more qualified.

Luckily I also love biology and healthcare. So I spent yet another 2 years doing prereq's to get into nursing school. And I start in a few weeks - luckily got in on my 1st try. It's not so much that I've wanted to be a nurse all my life, but I am attracted to many things that they do, what they stand for and the flexibility of the profession.

There are so many areas you can go into. Don't let anyone sway you with negative talk like "oh the hours." If you don't like one specialty area, you can switch if you're flexible about pay, location, learning new things. Also, in this day and age, and in the future generations it will be taken for granted many people will make career changes 2-3-4 times in their life. There will be no more "pick a profession for life" at 18 type of situations with technology and fields always changing.

All you can do is try and be inquisitive. Try being a CNA (can become one in 1 term at a college or 2 months at a nursing home) and move around to different floors to see what a nurse actually does if you're that doubtful. I worked in an ER as a telemetry technician 15 years ago, and what those nurses did totally distorted my stereotype of what I "thought" nurses did, i.e. be subservient, take orders, change bedding & bedpans. They were so much more than that. I also have a bit of doubt about anyone whom hasn't worked with nurses, that states "they've always wanted to be a nurse because their aunt or mom was one" or whatever warm and fuzzy romantic notion they have about what stories they've heard or seen in movies/tv. I guess the bottom line is you need to see for yourself. What you *think* a nurse is, may not be the case for the good or bad.

And there is nothing wrong with wanting to explore new territory and be a responsible citizen with a JOB. We don't all have to be starving artists and writers. =) But variety is the spice of life. I used to teach at a university during grad school and after, and I saw so many students that hated a subject at one point, then down the line, I find out they specialized in it! They didn't need to be a "I've wanted to be a ____ since I was born" type at all to be successful. Just go check it out for yourself, but realize the opinions of a senior nurse vs. a junior one, one in ob/gyn vs. nursing home, one working for the govt. in a univ. clinic 9-5 or an office will be VASTLY different. You can even be a traveling nurse and see the world. It's all up to you. And a nursing career is also a great springboard to other opportunities like teaching, administration and being a nurse practitioner.

As for happiness, I guess that has to come from within no matter what job you choose.

I can totally relate to what you are saying --- I am also trying to decide if nursing is right for me. I have a bachelor's degree in a totally DIFFERENT field (Theatre - which I treasure, but it doesn't pay the bills) and am thinking about going back to school.

I am not a passionate "I HAVE to be nurse, it is my calling" kind of a person, but I know I am smart and realistic about what the profession entails. However, I am passionate about making a difference in the world in my own way, and having a stable future and a career that I enjoy.

This is not to say that once you start the schooling, you won't wake up and decide that it is now your calling.

I say, research the profession, where you think you will best fit, and if you believe you are committed enough to go through the schooling.

Now I think I will try to follow my own advice....!

Good luck and best wishes on whatever you decide!


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